A recent survey by Nuffield Health has found that more people are now inclined to go to work sick. The main reason for going to work whilst sick was having a large workload to manage however, almost half of the 1,600 people surveyed said that concerns over job security made them attend when they should have stayed at home and rested.
Perhaps surprisingly, people going to work sick costs businesses more than absenteeism. Research conducted by Aston University in 2010 estimated the cost of employees going into work sick to be up to £15 billion a year. This is a worrying statistic for businesses, many of whom are already struggling with the unstable financial climate.
Of the 1,600 people surveyed, 72% admitted to going to work whilst sick last year, and more worryingly, more than half of those surveyed went to work whilst suffering from a contagious illness, for example, a cold. Those aged between 16 and 24, were the most likely to go into work sick, with 85% of those surveyed saying they had gone into work sick last year. So, it appears fears about the tough economic climate are causing people to risk their own health, as well as that of others who may be infected.
The survey found that those working in the retail industry are most likely to go into work sick, however there is evidence that those working in all sectors, including industrial engineering, are turning up for work when they should be staying at home.
In 2010, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development reported on the pressures on employees to attend work and the impact on performance. The report concluded that presenteeism caused increased stress levels, ineffective working and reduced productivity as a result of transferring illnesses. Further, it was found that organisations who were going to make redundancies were more likely to notice an increase in people coming to work ill than in organisations who had already made redundancies, suggesting the anticipation of redundancy encouraged people to struggle into work.
Whilst no business wants to discourage its staff from working, especially during a recession, employers should reassure their workers that if they are ill, especially if they are contagious, they should stay at home and rest until they are fit to return to work.